On Small Town Memories

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I remember.

I remember your streets.

I remember your warmth.

I remember your people.

I remember the way you raised me.

Hi, I’m Claire Stanovich. Motley’s intern this fall.

I’ve lived in small town North Carolina my whole life, Rocky Mount, specifically. There is something special about the towns that make up rural eastern N.C. There’s a quintessential charm that envelopes the town borders. Small town N.C. made me who I am today. The stillness and the pace of life. The appreciation for the good. The love for your fellow neighbor. I believe that life is comprised of experiences that shape us, but that we can also have places to shape us. We may leave. We may expand our knowledge. Expand our way of life, but we will always come home. Come back to the places that made us who we are. The places that raised us.

Rocky Mount, I have the fondest memories of leaving preschool, walking across the church parking lot, and into Central Cafe.

Central Cafe, or Central as the locals call it, is the first thing that I think of when I think of Rocky Mount. I can picture the wooden booths, the smiles of the staff, the styrofoam cups filled to the brim with crushed ice and sweet tea. Last year, I took some friends back home with me to Central. I’ve never gone with anyone that didn’t automatically know what they wanted to order. That’s the thing with Central, you either order a cheeseburger, hot dog, or grilled cheese. The staples. It’s the type of place that brings your food out on pieces of wax paper and only accepts cash. It’s home.

I remember the summers where I would ride my bike to Westridge pool every single day with my two best pals. We’d always meet at the Mansfield stop sign and head over together, towels and lunch cooler in hand. We knew we’d be there a while. Or, the times that I would share break apart banana popsicles with my next door neighbor. Or, the times that a quick trip to the Harris Teeter on Sunset Avenue would turn into 45 minutes of talking to the first five people you see because you knew all of them by name. This was a weekly occurrence, but you loved seeing a familiar face. I remember watching you grow and continuously seeing that growth today.

Rocky Mount: it’s been fun to listen to stories of your past.

You raised my mother.

It’s been a family affair. I love hearing about the things that have changed and the things that never will. I may not love you all the time, Rocky Mount. I may not ever be a resident of you again. There are times when I say I wish I had lived somewhere else, but I don’t mean it.

If that had been the case, I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. My life, my values, my beliefs, my appreciation, my likes, my mannerisms, those all may be different. I may not be who I am. I may not know the people that I do. I love coming home and being with the people that share you as a commonality. We go to different schools in different cities. We’ve followed different paths of life, but we’ll always call you home.

Small town N.C., I love you.

- Claire